Ford Doubles Down on Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous transportation is one of the central themes on display at CES 2016 and on Tuesday, we announced some exciting developments, including an initiative to triple our fleet of Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles before year’s end. This would make Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet the largest among all auto manufacturers.

The reasoning behind the increase is simple: the more ground that can be covered by research vehicles, the smarter the underlying technology becomes, and the surest way to cover more ground is to deploy more cars.

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“Using the most advanced technology and expanding our test fleet are clear signs of our commitment to make autonomous vehicles available for millions of people,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer. “With more autonomous vehicles on the road, we are accelerating the development of software algorithms that serve to make our vehicles even smarter.”

Getting sensitive: finding a better sensor

In addition to more research vehicles on the road, Ford announced new technology for its third-generation autonomous vehicle platform. Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK, a new LiDAR sensor from Velodyne, promises to deliver a longer sensor range of 200 metres, and its lightweight design allows for more sensors to be deployed per vehicle.

”Adding the latest generation of computers and sensors, including the smaller and more affordable Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto sensors helps bring Ford ever closer to having a fully autonomous vehicle ready for production,” said Jim McBride, Ford technical leader for autonomous vehicles.

Progress towards an autonomous experience

While numerous hurdles must still be cleared on the path toward a fully autonomous vehicle, Ford has made significant progress since it’s first-generation platform, which debuted in 2005. Ford drivers already enjoy a variety of features derived from autonomous research, including adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection and active park assist.